chapter  9
12 Pages

Lived Ethnicity

Two ‘Turkish’ Women in Germany
WithJasmin Mahadevan, Esra Cetinkaya, Dilara Özer

This chapter is based on in-depth interviews with two ‘Turkish’ women in Germany. In this case, ‘Turkish’ does not refer to nationality but to ethnicity. We put ‘Turkish’ (understood as an ethnic marker) in quotation marks to say that ethnicity is not an objective reality: whilst others might believe in a fixed content of a certain ethnicity, those who live this ethnicity do so in many different ways. Our purpose is to trace the lived ethnicity of our interviewees, that is: how they perceive who they are in terms of ethnicity and how they live out this idea. We juxtapose ‘lived ethnicity’ with the ethnic image, that is: how ethnicity is perceived by others. We show how an ethnic image creates certain expectations on individuals to meet the ethnic image. However, lived ethnicity is more complex: In this case, both interviewees are different in terms of class, age, education and family support system. All these factors shape individual standpoints and life experiences. This way, the dominant and mono-dimensional ethnic image of ‘Turkish women in Germany’ is deconstructed, and a multifaceted and intersectional approach to individual identities emerges.